Saturday, July 5, 2014

Snowpiercer - My Review

Got a text in the morning asking if I was interested in grabbing breakfast with some friends. I asked Lydia if she wanted to join us and she accepted. So Lydia and I walked over to the NoHo Diner and was join by Jes, Chris, Robert and Cait.

Good friends and good food, make for a good morning.

Lydia and I met up later in the afternoon with Jes, Chris and Dallas at the Laemmle theater to see Snowpiercer. I had never heard of this movie but Jes was talking about it during breakfast and it sounded interesting. Here's a brief synopsis: In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off all life on the planet except for a lucky few that boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system evolves.

I guess there has been delays in the release of this movie. It came out in Korea back in August of 2013 and was a huge hit, It was purchased by The Weinstein Company back in 2012 and they planned a wide release in the US, but a delay was caused by Harvey Weinstein, an owner of The Weinstein Company, requesting 20 minutes of footage be cut and opening and closing monologues be added. Bong (writer and director) refused to cut it and while he succeed in getting the film released in an uncut form, Weinstein retaliated by relegating the film to Radius-TWC (what a jerk), which meant the film only received a limited release in art house cinemas. In fact it was released in only 8 theaters in the US. But it was announced that thanks to the positive reviews and buzz, the film would get a wider US release and play in over 150 theaters.

Now for my review of Snowpiercer; (non-spoiler stuff) I really enjoyed this movie, so many amazing actors that it's surprising that I hadn't heard about it beforehand. But it sounds like the Weinsteins don't really care about this movie so why promote it.

Here's a list of the cast... Chris Evans, who does an amazing job in this film. Jamie Bell, who I didn't even recognize. John Hurt, who is always brilliant. Tilda Swinton, who brings some humor to this very bleak world. Octavia Spencer, who I was so happy to see in this movie as I'm a HUGE fan of hers and she was fantastic!! And finally Ed Harris, who like Hurt is always great.

This movie makes full use of color, mood and style in representing the various rooms within the train. The higher you got up the class chain the brighter and livelier the colors get. The main theme of this movie is about revolution. Yes the fight for liberty is not an easy one. There will be blood. But it's never used in a gratuitous way. Rather the struggles are a reminder that freedom is a right that many have died for so don't take those blessings for granted.

This film is a thought provoking, chilling, bleak and despairing allegorical tale with a considerable amount of political and moral ramifications such as the dangers of global warming, forced social stratification, lawlessness, cult of personality and disregard for dignified human life.

But with all those good things I have to say one thing I did not like about the film (there will be spoilers from here on out). I did not enjoy the ending, the destruction of the train and presumably almost everyone on board was very anti-climatic. I mean you spend the entire movie watching all the main characters get killed one at a time and it's heart wrenching. And then you get to the end with the Chris Evens' character and you think.. great he's taken down the man and he is going to stop the train and succeed at building a new society. Well the explosion to blow the train door causes an avalanche which wipes our 2/3's of the train, knocking the car down steep hills that no human could survive. Other cars smash into mountain sides and explode. Others are derailed and pile up in a burning mess. These are the last remaining humans on the planet and we just lost everyone with exception of two who manage to get out of the burning train and take their first steps on the snow cover surface. The End.

Did more survive? Are these the only two people left on the planet? What happen to Chris' character?

I get it.. it's a bleak movie, and maybe I'm just use to positive and/or happy endings.. even if all is bad there is always a glimmer of hope, but with this movie there was nothing.

Did this take away my enjoyment of the movie, kind of. Is this a movie I could watch over and over.... Definitely not. But I am glad I saw it and it was very entertaining and thought provoking. I'd give Snowpiercer a solid B

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July

Today Chris, Lydia and I are headed to my Mom's place down in Newport Beach (Balboa Island). We arrived around 10:30am and the parade on the island was just finishing up and the road to my mom's was closed. I manged to go around the closure but then ran into another blocked street. The guy asked me where I was going and I said to my mom's house, he asked me the address and I couldn't tell him. I don't remember the exact address of my mom's because I just know where she lives. I saw the house next to the guy and it was 400 and I knew my mom lived about ten houses down so I told the guy 412 or something like that and he let me through.

So we got to my mom's where my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew were already there. Joining us an hour later was my aunt Joyce and Uncle Marty.

We all hung out on the water, ate yummy BBQ and watched the boat parade. Chris actually took out the kayak and both my niece and nephew joined him. First of all we were all shocked when Kenobi actually got into the boat with Chris. Kenobi is a very timid child and doesn't take to strangers easily but for some reason he had no problem with Chris (who he was meeting for the first time). Molly on the other hand is much braver and I expected her to get in the kayak but I didn't think she would get in with Chris as she too takes time to warm up to people. But like Kenobi she took to Chris without question. Just goes to show you that both kids are growing up, they know Chris is a friend of their Uncle Kenny so he's isn't a bad guy.

The fireworks were not going to happen until 9pm but Chris had to go to LOJ at 8 and my brother and his family had to leave around 3 for their own night party with friends so we only stuck around until 4pm

It was a fun day hanging with family and friends. Happy 4th of July to you all!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Superman, Sherlock and Katies B-day

Picked up my best bud Chris from the Burbank airport this morning, he's here for LOJ this weekend.. we came home and hung out for a bit. Lydia arrived from Switzerland around mid day and I showed her my place. She'll be my "roommate" for the next 34 days.

Several geeky things I wanted to share with you guys.. first of all they released an image of Superman's new outfit for the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. I have to say I really like this new look. It's similar to the Man of Steel costume. So if you didn't like that one you're probably not going to like this one. I'm really looking forward to the next Superman movie. I loved the new Man of Steel movie.. all the haters can hate.

My friend Bonnie posted this article that she had written on CNET about some upcoming Sherlock and Watson 1:6th scale dolls. They look pretty spot on and if they weren't $285 each I would consider getting them. Please be sure to read more about them in Bonnie's article HERE. If you are interested in pre-ordering them you can do that HERE. Maybe one day they'll make less expensive figures for poor people.

During the evening, while Lydia crashed from jet lag, Chris and I hooked up with Dallas and Jes and took the redline to Hollywood & Vine to attend our friend Katie's Birthday party. She was celebrating at the Parlor Room where our friend Rileah bartens. Since we took the redline none of us had to drive and my buddy Chris said he would buy me drinks (since I'm jobless and poor) so I took advantage of his generosity. It was a fun evening, I got to see friends that I see every once in a while like, Kim, Adam, Jared, Ari, Derrick and a few others. I made a few new friends and had a great time celebrating Katie's 30th with her. 

By the end of the night I was drunk having had three shots (1 Jameson, 2 Fireball) and three Vodkas and Cranberries. And since it was Rileah making them for us she was very generous with the alcohol.

We left the party around 11pm (last train runs at midnight) and stopped for some fried chicken and fries, which was much needed after all the alcohol. We then jumped on the 11:41 train and made our way back to North Hollywood. I got home around midnight and called it a night. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Prepping for House Guests

Today I prepared for house guests. My buddy Chris is coming into town tomorrow for LOJ (Labyrinth of Jareth) and my friend Lydia is also coming into town for vacation and SDCC. Lydia will be staying with me while she is here. Chris might be staying with me a night or two. Either way I wanted to get my house in order.

First I had to make some room in my toy/guest room for Lydia's stuff. So I moved a few things around and also moved some stuff around in the closet so she could hang a few things. Out in the living room I had my extra 15 plastic bins full of collectables so I moved them to my bedroom and stacked them up next to my bed. I'd rather have them in my bedroom out of the way of the general living area.

With those gone I was able to put together to two Ikea bookshelves that my buddy Chris got for me for a housewarming gift. I have to say they look great with all my geeky books displayed on them.

All I have left is to put up all my awesome Jason Palmer prints and my framed map of Middle Earth and the living area of my house will be done.

By the end of the day my apartment was ready to host two house guests.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cool Posters, Fox Fumbles & Dinner

So I woke up around noon and I was sore. I guess being a zombie and attacking people is rough on this old body. But it was still an amazing experience.

I came across these on Facebook and had to share with you guys. Of course if I had the money and the wall space I'd pick up a bunch of these. These are metal posters and they don't really cost that much, $44 if you consider it being a piece of art. They have a Superman one that I think I'll get anyways as I just love it. Check out their website HERE and see all the other amazing superhero metal posters that are available.

In other "this doesn't surprise me" news.. Fox cancels ancient Egyptian fantasy show Hieroglyph before it airs. They ordered 13 episodes and finished the first with several others in the early pre-production stage. Fox didn't give any reason as to why it was cancelled. What's strange is that Fox has really been promoting this one and then suddenly stopped. Maybe because it's set in ancient Egypt I can see it costing alot of money to produce, and if they didn't like the first episode and figured they'd cancel it before putting more money into it.

More and more networks are approving series without a pilot, as they did with this one. If they would have done a pilot first to see if the concept worked then they would have known that it didn't and never approved it for a series in the first place.

I'm disappointed that it was cancelled as it was a series that I was interested in watching this fall. But when it comes to Fox they don't have the best track record in supporting Fantasy and SciFi series. (Alien Nation, Firefly, John Doe and so on).

During the evening I had dinner with my friends John and Moises. Moises made chicken, mash potatoes and corn. It was all very tasty. While we ate we watched 9 to 5. That's one of my all time favorite comedies.  It was a good evening.

My Zombie Life Pt.2

So around 2 am all the Zombies are done and we are ready to film. My make up still looks great and I'm ready to do this. Greg went around to each of the "primary" zombies and gave them directions on where to stand and where to go. I was the fourth zombie to attack Marissa's character and the one that was going to finally take her down so I started off camera and staggered my way over to the other three who were already attacking her. We did this three times before they decided to move me to be one of the three who initially attacks her.

So now I'm crouched down on my knees near a headstone with my fellow zombie Donna and we pop up from below the camera and attack while another stops her from backing away and the fourth (which use to be me, comes up and attacks as well). We did this over and over for another 12 takes for a total of 15 takes.

Since this is a 360 film there are no cuts, no close ups and everything needs to happen in order and with perfect timing. If one person misses their mark or screws up the entire take is wasted. Afterwards I heard the producers say that they got three really good takes and they will use one so those for the final film.

It was now around 4am and we were wrapped. A group of us stayed round to shot a promo for the film, It was basically all the zombies surrounding the 360 cameras and reaching out toward the middle. After the promo Greg wanted to get a picture ala Thriller so he put on his Michael Jackson jacket and had all the zombies surround him.. the final product turned out great.

Once we were done with that, all the zombies headed to make up and wardrobe. The make up line was huge and lead make up guy wasn't the friendliest as he told us all to get out and that they would get to us when they got to us. While standing outside I started to pull on my prosthetic and slowly but surely and with a few painful moments I managed to peel it off my face.

I hung around for another half hour and chatted with some folks before calling it a day and heading home. Luckily for me I only live about 10 minutes from the Barnyard so I was home and in the shower in no time. The make up took some hard scrubbing to get off. My face felt a bit raw afterwards.

I was in bed by 5:30am, hoping to get a few hours sleep before I started my day. Luckily I didn't have any plans until later in the evening.

Overall it was a FANTASTIC shoot. It was fun being turned into a Zombie. And if I had to do it all over again I would. Thanks Greg and company for letting be part of this very fun experience.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Zombie Life Pt.1

Went to my friend Greg Aronowitz's place The Barnyard to be an extra in a Zombie short that he was creating with my friend Kim Evey, It's called Zombie 360. I got there around 3:30pm for a 4pm call time. I sat around about a half hour with other extras when they brought over some "base" paint and asked if we could get started on painting ourselves.

So I started with some green and added a bit of yellow and purple and was about fifteen minutes into it when they asked us to stop as some of us were going to be chosen for prosthetic. I was fortunately one of them. Greg picked out a prosthetic that he thought would work for me and then I was asked to go wash my face as they needed it to be completely clean to put on the prosthetic. After washing my face I went and sat back down with the extras for about fifteen minutes but soon my name was called and I headed to one of the make up artists so he could glue the prosthetic onto my face.

Now I have been an extra many times but never have I had to wear a prosthetic on my face and I was excited for this opportunity. He first tested my skin to make sure I wasn't allergic to the latex or glue. Afterwards he placed the prosthetic over my face and made a few cuts here and there so it would fit better before getting out the glue and gluing the prosthetic down.

It's an interesting feeling having something glued down to your face. Of course as soon as it's on you want to itch but can't. But luckily the feeling passes. After he glued it on to my face we waited a few minutes to let it dry. I did find out that the glue that they used was super strong as they didn't want to have to re-apply during the actual shooting. The only way to really get this off it to use a chemical that will break down the glue.

Once it was dry he asked me to make faces and move my face around to see if any of the ends would raise up. There were a few spots so he applied more glue. He then placed "bondo" around the edges to make them seamless. I've used bondo before with my Hobbit ears. Anyways after that he was done, the prosthetic was on and I was ready for full make up.

Before moving on to full make up I went to wardrobe and handed over some jeans and a shirt for them to "zombified". They tore, ripped and dirtied up my clothes before giving them back to me. 

I headed into Greg's house where they were actually doing make up and waited. I waited for about three hours as there were only two make artists and then down to one working on Zombie make up. Greg came in from time to time to work on of the more high profile people in this film like Grant Imahara. Also the main cast members were coming in and getting their make up done. Pushing out make up back.

Eventually everyone was done and they got to the extras. As the make up started she really was having a hard time trying to figure out what kind of zombie I would be.. and for about 20 minutes she tried various looks when suddenly you could see the light bulb go off above her head and wham.. Zombie Kenny came to life. 45 minutes later I was done.. The end results were amazing. I love the look she gave to me.

While I was getting made up, America Young (stunt coordinator) came to me and said that I had been chosen to be one of the Zombies to take down the last human (Marissa Cuevas). Woohoo!!

Once they were done with my make up it was about 9pm and time for dinner. We were suppose to start shooting around 9pm but the Zombie make up was taking alot longer then expected.. there were over 55 zombies and about half were high profile, meaning they had to have really good make up. The other background zombies were self painted with some help from the make up artists.

As midnight approached they were still working on making up the zombies. I had been in my prosthetic since 5pm and full make up since 9pm. My face was starting to itch and I found out that the make up doesn't really come off by just touching it so I was able to kind of put pressure on the prosthetic which would kind of relive the itch under it.

The waiting continues as the clock strikes midnight...

Diet Soda Success, Disney Paintings & Transformers

I did it... I have gone seven days without drinking a single diet soda or any soda for that matter. It was rough, as I normally drink 2 to 3 diet sodas a day (especially when I'm home). But I stuck it out and didn't give in to temptation. Now this doesn't mean I'm going to stop drinking diet soda, but I have decided that I will not have any diet soda/soda in the house. I'll only drink it on occasions when I go out to eat. Who knows maybe one day I'll give it up completely but for now I'm happy to do a major cut down of my daily intake.

I came across these on Facebook and thought they were amazing. Check out the artists other "real life" Disney paintings HERE.

Since Transformers 4 is out in theaters FX was doing a Transformers marathon airing all three of the previous movies. If you read my Transformers 4 blog a few days ago you'd know that I had never seen part 3 "Darkside of the Moon", so I recorded it and watched it today. I'm not going to review it. I'm just going to say that it felt like all of the other Transformers movies. The story went on for way to long. The film could have used some major editing. But the effects were amazing, I really liked the characters, both humans and transformers. I now know what "big battle" they were talking about in Transformers 4. And like with all the other movies. I'm glad I saw them and find them very entertaining.. the perfect popcorn movie.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Superhero Flasks, Star Trek and Who

My friend Amy tweeted about these awesome flasks. Now I'm not a huge drinker but I'd still like to have a few of these... if I had to choose just one I think I would pick Superman as he is my favorite superhero. Which one is your favorite? You can check out the rest HERE.

Now if you know me you know I love Star Trek. I've seen every TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT  episode, as well as all the movies but I don't think I've seen all of the original Star Trek episodes. I know I've seen alot of them, especially when I was little as they aired them in syndication all the time. I don't have a clue how many of the episodes I have actually seen of the series.

So when I saw that they had these on Netflix I figured I'd give them a go. I watched the pilot episode which of course had an entirely different cast (other then Spock). I then watched the first few episodes of season one and though some of the effects and acting is a bit cheesy I really enjoyed them. So much so that I'm planning on continuing my watching of TOS. I may try and review episodes on this blog from time to time. Let me know if you'd be interested in reading those.

And finally... BBC America announced the premiere date of Doctor Who season eight. You can watch the video below... can't wait!!